"The earth beneath them opened its mouth"

The earth is a symbol of lower, base objectives, as in the new coalition focused on hatred and the self-aggrandizement of its leaders.

Rabbi Moshe Kempinski ,

Moshe Kempinski
Moshe Kempinski
Courtesy

Torah Portion of Korach Numbers 16:1–18:32

The Mishna teaches that a dispute that is for the sake of Heaven, will yield lasting results while one that is not for the sake of Heaven will not yield lasting results (Avot 5:20). The classic example of “heaven-centered disputes”” are the long standing disagreements between Hillel and Shammai.


On the other hand the classic example of a “non-heaven focused arguments” is that of Korach and his followers.

In this Torah portion Korach the son of Izhar confronts Moshe together with two hundred and fifty "men of repute“ from the children of Israel. They assembled against Moshe and Aaron, and said to them, "You take too much upon yourselves, for the entire congregation are all holy, and Hashem is in their midst. So why do you raise yourselves above Hashem's assembly?"( Numbers 16:1-3).


Though Korach and his followers raise important theological issues with Moshe and Aaron , their purpose was clearly focused on self-aggrandizement and not the pursuit of ultimate truth.

Korach could have raised all these issues with Moshe and Aharon in a private meeting with the two leaders. Instead Korach and his followers chose to raise the banner of dissent and split the camp in rancor and hatred.


Their rebellion is quickly vanquished through the Divine intervention of G-d and the earth swallowed the threat. "The earth beneath them opened its mouth and swallowed them and their houses, and all the men who were with Korah and all the property."(Numbers 16:32)

We need to understand why would Hashem use this dramatic and unusual form of punishment.

Throughout the Bible we see that what is viewed as" punishment" must actually be understood as “instruction”. The punishment itself, its context and the way that punishment is meted out is meant to teach a deep lesson regarding the failure that brought it about.

As we have seen in Pirkei Avot ,a dispute that is for the sake of Heaven, will yield lasting results. That is only so because the dispute is focused on Heaven and Higher Purpose and not on the passions , ego and pride of the inhabitants of the earth.

On the other hand , a dispute"that is not for the sake of Heaven will not yield lasting results".

The things of heaven last forever while the things of the earth eventually wither and are gone.

When Abraham is told to "Go Forth from your land ( Artzecha) "( Genesis12:1) the Abarbanel writes ,”One of the mitzvot that was commanded from the verse "Go forth from your land..." is that one's soul leaves material things in order to fully realize the soul's potential"

The term ARTZIUT which is generally defined as "earthiness or landedness” is derived from the word Eretz( Earth) . In fact that same term can define the complete opposite when that earthiness is raised and elevated to a higher purpose. Yet if that doesn’t happen that ARTZIUT pulls us down and away from our ultimate Purpose and destiny. We become engulfed with our ARTZIUT and we lose the ability to see the Heavens.


It is no wonder then that the fate of Korach is sealed in the earth ( eretz)."The earth ( HaAretz) beneath them opened its mouth and swallowed them and their houses, and all the men who were with Korah and all the property."(Numbers 16:32).


That is a lesson that so reverberates in the midst of current events unfolding in Israel. We witnessed an election that had truly little to do with values or ideology. It was an election that was mainly fixated on ego, pride and hatred.

The new government “in formation” presents the more extreme picture of that failure. Parties that represent a wide spectrum of mutually exclusive values and ideology discard all those higher defining segments of their identity like refuse on the ground, They form a coalition focused on hatred of their rival and around the self-aggrandizement and power of its leaders.


This was not an election focused on ideals, dreams and vision. It seemed to be focused on the lowest basal instincts of earthbound people . As a result they will soon find themselves bogged down and swallowed up by all those conflicting passions and desires of ARTZIUT and will have trouble seeing or even remembering the higher and sometimes holier dreams and visions of their past.

It is the desire of so many in this country that they remain healthy and strong but that they should also find the courage to break out of the ARTZIUT( Earthiness) that has engulfed them, sooner ,rather than later.

”A dispute that is for the sake of Heaven, will yield lasting results"

Lerefuat Yehudit bat Golda Yocheved ve kol Hacholim



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